Beet lime has become a common soil amendment in the sugarbeet growing areas of this region. Beet lime is a byproduct of the process of extracting sugar from sugarbeets. The primary reasons for applying beet lime are to reduce Aphanomyces root disease in sugarbeets and for the 20 lb/a P2O5 phosphorus per ton of lime. In areas with very low pH, beet lime is used to increase the soil pH just like other ag lime sources.
Questions from customers prompted us to start a beet lime demonstration project in 2008. In 2008, rates of 1 to 6 tons of beet lime were applied to a high pH soil and then tilled into the soil. Each fall we soil test these sites to measure any changes in soil pH and salt levels. As you can see in the tables, there have been no significant changes in soil pH or soluble salt levels over 6 years. Since the soil pH of this site was high to begin with (>7.0), there is no chemical reaction taking place between the beet lime and the soil, and we did not expect the soil pH to increase. If beet lime were applied to an acid soil (pH less than 7.0), the beet lime would react with the hydrogen (acid) in the soil and increase the soil pH, the same as any other liming material (see liming low pH soils in ND article). Since the soil pH of this soil has not increased and the soluble salt level has not decreased in the six years, we will conclude this project and assume that beet lime does not have an effect on the pH of high pH soils or on the salinity level of soils in general.